I know i have a tendency to ramble. But im tired. And feeling some sickness coming on. And the caffeine i so wisely ingested at 10pm is wearing off. So i will try and summarize in digest form.
I've been fairly complimentary to a few places in Edmonton - places that provided me with some great food experiences. However, things can change, and i feel it's important to get back to specific restaurants at least once a year, just so you can refresh your knowledge, and confirm that your opinion still holds true.
I spent the weekend revisiting a bunch of places i really enjoyed in the past. Here are my observations.
1. Friday Night, Dinner - Syphay (Thai and Laotian).
It's been a while, but i was picking up dinner to take to a friends house. Wanting something close by, i figured Thai was a good option. I ordered three dishes - green curry (chicken), Pad Thai with prawns, and a Laotian Beef dish, and two orders of coconut rice. Total bill, 45 bucks + tip.
The food was excellent - too much for 3 people really, but we were all hungry, and it tasted so darn good, we polished it off. The green curry was nice. Great blend of flavours. The Pad Thai was good, but i swear they put ketchup in there. And the Laotian beef dish. Damn, was it tasty. Coconut rice was amazing - best flavour i've had in a while.
Great price, good food. Still good.
2. Saturday afternoon, lunch - Betsy's (South African)
Had a big breakfast at a friends house, and a long chat and coffee turned into a light lunch. I had a bunch of errands to run, so i took off. One thing that Edmonton has that i miss is Betsy's - a South African deli. I needed some quick, easy food to eat on the go, so i picked up a big bag of chili bites, and biltong (both regular, and chili biltong). If you've never had them, you should give them a try. It's a better, more flavourful jerky.
3. Saturday night, dinner - Sofra (Turkish)
Probably my favorite restaurant in Edmonton (tossed up with Culina), i hit Sofra every chance i get. 2 friends and i split two dips (red pepper, my fave, and spicy feta (spice coming from an insane amount of garlic). The pita wasnt up to par, a bit soggy. But they were slammed, so i'll give them a pass this time, as the dips themselves were awesome as usual. They were also out of Kofte (meatballs), so we had to share a lamb skewer, a chicken skewer, and a veggie skewer. Amazing as always - the three of us, who normally talk a lot, had complete silence during the entrees. Split a baklava dish for dessert.
The prices have gone up - a couple bucks on most items. Not the raging steal it used to be, but still awesome, with dishes with a flavour profile you just don't get anywhere else in Edmonton. Glad it has maintained a high standard of quality still.
3B. Saturday Night - drinks - Sherbrooke Liquor (Beer)
Sherbrooke liquor - we stopped by on the way home to pick up beer. For those who don't know, Sherbrooke liquor is home of the most diverse beer selection in Alberta. There was a new Unibroue beer that we tried, and a couple of old standby's - Fischer, Alsacian beer. Combine the french with the germans and you get a really good bevy!
4. Sunday brunch - New York Bagel Cafe (Breakfast)
My favorite breakfast place in Alberta. It doesnt need anymore business, so people, please don't bother going when im in town! :) Huge lineups as always, amazing food as always. Eggs Benedict or French Toast is the way to go here. I always go with one of the Benny's. Still amazing, the only thing about this place that i dislike is the lack of drip coffee. When im hung over, i dont want to be paying $3.50 for "house coffee" that is really a latte. I want refills on good diesel fuel. Or a P&S to make my day.
As an FYI, i tried the Blue Chair cafe for brunch a few weeks ago, and it was decent. No lineup. A worthy alternative if you don't want to wait. Only annoying thing was they brought musicians in, but then ask everyone to chip in and pay for them. I've never been a fan of passing the buck after the fact - either charge a cover, or pay for them yourselves has always been my opinion.
5. Sunday Dinner - Sage (Steakhouse)
Google Sage edmonton and one thing pops up - my over enthused, glowingly complimentary review of my first experience at Sage. Since the first few times i've been, i've heard mixed reviews from a few friends. Mostly service related, but some food related issues as well. I owed a good friend a nice birthday meal (from August!), so i took him to Sage. I had to get some new intel on it.
Well, the menu has changed. Things have gotten a bit cheaper (!? I know!), and they've removed a few choices, replacing them with others. My sentiments are: bread isnt as good, though it was a Sunday. Likely not fresh. The appetizers and salads are less ambitious, less interesting, and no where near as good as they used to be. My salad was very average. The calamari was decent, but not great. Nothing like the old rock cod, shrimp, and calamari appetizer they used to serve.
The entree's - i ordered bone-in ribeye ($38), friend ordered striploin ($40). Both Canadian Prime. Both were awesome. Perfectly cooked in my opinion (most Albertans would probably say slightly undercooked - i ordered medium rare and it was probably more like R-MR, but i prefer that over overcooked). Awesome cuts of beef.
Sides we shared - mushrooms, and truffled macaroni. Both were tasty. No complaints there.
With a couple of drinks, the bill came out to $130 + tip.
This wasnt as good as my first experience, but i don't think it could possibly live up to the same lofty expectations. The steak was as good as the first time. The appetizers, not so much. It was still worth the money in my mind, but not the mind blowing experience of times past.
6. Monday Lunch - Pagolac (Vietnamese)
I used to eat at Pagolac all the time. From my first experiences on 97th Street when my mom would take me while we would run errands, to working at an office that shared my love for satay soup and 68 - going for lunch 2-3 times a week, to working next to the southside location and going there every day, i definitely miss the laughing cow.
Prices have gone up to match inflation - still quite reasonable, but not as ridiculous as it used to be. I ordered the veritable institution, Beef Satay soup, and an order of spring rolls.
Soup, regular size (7.95), is of the thick variety. Alau2 loves this soup. I used to miss this tremendously, but i have to say, this time, it was only average. Too much ginger. Not enough heat. Noodles endlessly tangled together. It was good, but i think i've adopted the Calgary coconut milk-chili broth as my new preference. Im sad...i thought some things would always stand the test of time. This hasnt for me. Next time, im sticking with #68. Maybe a trip to the Oriental Noodle house, the home of the beef satay soup is in order to try and find my love again!
Anyway, those are just some updates on places around town. I see i failed at my attempt at writing with brevity, in digest form. I'll have to work on it.